Once upon a time, the artist who will always be known as Prince had a Black Album. It was full of darkness, violence, anger. It also went unreleased, except to bootleggers, for years. Being an obsessed Prince fan at the time, I had a bootleg copy of the Black Album–what was it?–within 48 hours of its canceled release date, December 7, 1987.
The “unofficial” story had something to do with Prince canceling the release of his dark dreams because he had seen the light, more or less. Still, several years later, the Black Album was released and on the shelves of the last of those old record-turned-CD-music stores.
Instead of the Black Album, Prince’s next release was Lovesexy, a joyful romp, the opposite of dark. He appeared nude on the cover, which caused an uproar. Some stores only carried an altered version of the CD cover.
Cut to 20 years later. The violence in rap music has far surpassed that of Prince’s Black Album, while celebrities, both male and female, pose nude every chance they get. Many of them are babies of the Purple Rain-ed on 80s.
The Devil Inside, is my black album. Not the literal journey, nor the literary themes. The identification comes from the artist’s descent into the darkness of his world, which is to say the world around him.
For me, that world was the gay world and the dark side of existing in a somewhat safe sovereign nation within the United States, where men can be with other men and women can be with other women, while simultaneous living in an overall nation that demonizes gays as perverts and child molesters.
Kordell, the main character in The Devil Inside, is a successful black gay businessman. His business caters to families and kids. He’s well-respected in the community and seems like the perfect catch. That is, until a pure evil enters his life.
For 72 hours of Kordell Christie’s life, I put him through all kinds of hell. This once proud man faces demons real and imagined, as he ultimately asks, “Do all gays have the devil inside?”
Like Prince, my follow-up work was a joyful journey, the romantic Walt Loves the Bearcat. No nude artist on the cover though. Just flying football stadiums and a teddy bear. In novel number four, I saw the light and in it, better dreams.
But for novel number three, I went dark, so dark Unzipped Magazine called The Devil Inside, “a psychotic little pulp novel.”
I just call it my third child, and my black album.